Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"Atheism= Communism = Immorality" : The Cry of the Theistically Stupid.

I found the above photo of Joe Stalin on Google images. It was linked to a now defunct Christian blog site. The brief discussion of this picture included this comment:

“I would have chosen Mao Zedung who also murdered millions in the cause of atheism, but I didn't suppose his face was so instantly recognisable.”

This theist propensity to equate Communism with atheism and vice versa is a function of two things; basic lack of understanding of what Communism is, and what atheism isn’t.

Joseph Stalin killed millions. A psychopath and paranoid, he embodied the strong man, iron fisted methods used by tyrants to retain power since time immemorial. One need only to think of the biblical story of the Pharaoh killing all first born Hebrews to understand. Pharaoh didn’t kill them because he was a pagan, or even because they were Hebrews. He killed them to prevent a leader from emerging who would free the Hebrews; thus to insure his powerbase and Hebrew’s continued enslavement. How do we know this? Because had it been intended to eradicate the Hebrews he wouldn’t have stopped with just the first born.
It wasn’t an issue of paganism immorality Vs. theism, it was a political imperative. How different that is from the Hebrew God’s commandment to eradicate all pagan tribes in their territorial path … men, women (except the virgins), children and live stock.

While Communism embraces atheism it does so in order to establish the State as the sole religion, it’s a substitute religion with the tyrant as its primate. It also recognized that the church had a cohesive effect on the peasantry and thus represented a threat to the State’s exclusive power. Stalin never killed in the name of “godlessness”, he killed in the name of retention of one man rule, and the omnipotent power of the State.

“Uncle Joe” didn’t just single out the religious for his murderous purges. He feared intellectuals, homosexuals, and anyone with a political perspective different from his, including differing interpretations of communism [note the similarity to the Church’s persecution targets for centuries, and its distain for rival sects like the Cathars]. He had Trotsky removed and ultimately killed among thousands of other potential rivals.

Was this because of his lack of belief in God/gods? Was his rallying cry to his faithful followers “kill the theists in the name of atheism”? Hardly. Theists weren’t even the primary concern. One may as well blame Stalin's education in a seminary for his genocidal acts.

Then theists will say: “OK fine, but Stalin, and Mao represent a lack of morality and ethics that results from the rejection of God and God’s laws.” But morality and ethics predate monotheism. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Chinese, and Persians had laws and a code of ethics and morality, as did every highly developed or developing civilization. And yet this scope of genocidal destruction by a King of his own people was unknown in pagan , pre Judeo-Christian times. Additionally, and more currently, we are all familiar with the Bureau of Prisons report that show criminality is much higher among US believers than non-believers, which, among other evidences, renders the claim of atheist lack of ethics and morality debunked.

Atheism is defined as “lacking belief in God or gods.” That’s all. There is no hierarchy, no belief system. Communism, like religion, has a hierarchy; it is an entire believe system with a focal point of worship (The State), a dogma, doctrine, and expectation of compliance to that doctrine with a threat of punishment for noncompliance. Communism then has much more in common with religion than it does with atheism.

To attribute Joseph Stalin’s, or Mao’s psychopathic tyrannical actions to their atheism, as opposed to their mental illness’, hunger for power, and fanatical devotion to their belief system is tantamount to attributing Edward I (“Longshanks”) murderous suppression of the Scots and Welsh to his theism (when only his persecution of English Jews can be attributed to his Christian beliefs).

This distinction and the logic it represents are largely lost on, or more precisely, ignored by religionists. After years of indoctrination that Communism=Atheism= Lack of Morality it’s an uphill battle to get them to admit the fallacy. But then understanding the facts, like understanding Evolutionary theory, doesn’t help their cause, so why should they?

Additionally, recognition of this reality wouldn’t give theists a counter argument for the many examples and millions of deaths attributable directly to religious fervor -- killing for Yahweh, or for Christ, executions of heretics, witches, et al.

No, they have no impetus to understand or reject their hackneyed Communism / atheist / morality confusion and delusion. So their self imposed stupidity marches on.

Friday, March 20, 2009

And now for something completely different...

Once a year I take a break from posting a religious themed article, and indulge my softer gentler side by listing secular things that really piss me off. Here now, in no particular order is:


  1. Those little disclaimers under TV commercials that say “Do not attempt”. Like when you watch the Maytag repairman drive a monster truck over 20 lined up washing machines. Or you see a stunt woman jump off a twenty story building and crash through a glass sky light. As though anyone will go and buy 20 washing machines and drive a truck over them; or rush out and jump off a high-rise building. Any company who thinks we are that stupid doesn’t deserve our business.

  2. Barney Frank (D-MA)

  3. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)

  4. Nancy Pelosi (D- Botox test dummy)

  5. The Comcast computer generated animated commercial with the obnoxious monotone sing song theme music that goes on for what feels like an eternity (a full minute to be exact). I am now stalking all Comcast vans with a battery powered nail gun.

  6. Paul Schaffer. The bald headed pseudo-cool, shades wearing, sycophantic douche bag from the David Letterman show makes me want to randomly kill bald men.

  7. People who say “The proof is in the pudding”; and “Music has charms to soothe the savage beast.” Oy!! The correct phraseology is “The proof of the pudding is in the tasting.”; and “… to soothe the savage breast.” For Christ sakes, if you’re going to use an old saw, at least use it correctly!

  8. Old people who dawdle at or below the speed limit on a two lane 30 mph highway, while riding the brake every nine seconds, in a five mile long no passing zone, never thinking to pull over to let pass the twelve cars tailgating behind, all of whom are late for their doctor’s appointment.

  9. That Volks Wagon commercial with the German accented talking VW bug who sounds like a caricature of Sgt. Shultz from the old Hogan’s Heroes show. Yeah, great ... makes me wanna go right out and buy a car from a Nazi war criminal. Idiots.

  10. The “Octo-Mom”. For god’s sake woman, a vagina is not a clown car!!!

    Ok… break’s over. Everyone please get back to stamping out religion now.



Tuesday, March 17, 2009

"Atheism is the View of the Feeble and Gullible."

"Atheism is the View of the Feeble and Gullible." That remarkable statement was actually made by a fundamentalist Christian. It’s difficult for most people to fathom that kind of convoluted logic knowing what we know about what makes one an atheist. But there it was, in black and white.

Free Thinkers value evidence. We are slow to accept concepts proffered as fact without it. I don’t know any atheists who blindly accept as genuine fortune tellers, ghosts, poltergeist, mind readers, or any of the vast assortments of fictional beasts that are alleged to haunt the woods and oceans and lakes. That’s not to say we wouldn’t if presented with enough proof to make the reality of their existence evident, it’s just that there has never been any satisfactory proof, and lots of evidence to the contrary.

Similarly, while we are interested in radical new scientific theories, most of us are skeptical and don’t jump on board until we gather more information, see the data peer reviewed and vetted, and are provided with corroborating evidence that gives the theory credence. Even then, we do not apply “absolute” acceptance. Thus, by definition, atheists are the exact antithesis of gullible (I won’t even broach the feeble charge).

Every few years a self appointed Christian shaman predicts the End times, the Rapture, and thousands of devout sheep baa their praise, give away their belongings, quit their jobs, and await the Second Coming, only to have it pass uneventfully. They pray for rain, gas prices to fall, peace to come to the earth, Aunt Jane to be cured from her brain dead condition, and yet when it doesn’t happen they still believe in prayer. They wave their hands and praise the Lord watching fake healers cure their fake co-conspirators. They believe Satan planted fossils to confuse us; that demons exist and can possess people; that angels fly around; that dead things come to life, etc. etc., all with as much evidence as exists for the Loch Ness Monster. This they consider discriminating.

Of course, if you tell a Christian you have a talking mouse in your pocket … THEN they’d demand evidence, proof. Ya can’t put anything over on them, after all there were no talking mice in the Bible, only talking snakes and talking donkeys.

So how can a theist make the patently absurd claim that “atheism is the view of the feeble and the gullible”? To fundamentalists the Bible is the actual or inspired word of God. It’s not a debatable matter; it’s a matter of faith. To them the Bible is both historically and scientifically accurate, for how could God deceive or make errors, or permit errors to be made in his name? Ignore the pesky overwhelming scientific proofs that contradict the Bible, faith is faith and that’s that; man’s knowledge is subservient to “God’s Word”. If this is the mindset of the unschooled, unthinking religiously fanatical then it is apparent to them that atheists, who accept theories in opposition to God’s Word, have been fooled. Never mind that our acceptance of scientific facts are based on detailed analysis and familiarity with a preponderance of physical evidence founded on natural principles; corroborated, tested and repeatable data that disproves ancient fable; we have been deceived, bamboozled.

Now some of them will say we are lead astray by science and the secular world. The most impaired adherents will credit Satan with our “deception”. But in either case we atheists have clearly shown our gullibly by accepting viable reality, evidence and proofs resulting from many years of scientific examination, discoveries, and technological advancements; while simultaneously rejecting the “obvious Truth” of unsubstantiated myth.

This reverse / perverse logic is what passes for critical thinking among the wackiest fundamentalist apologists. This is why his statement about atheists being feeble and gullible makes sense only to him and his similarly impaired brethren.

But then the fundie surprised me and offered this unexpected admission: “Christianity isn’t the thinking man’s religion.” For once I could agree with a fundie.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Religious Indoctrination: Brainwashing, or just a rinse and set?

Indoctrination that forces people to abandon their beliefs in favor of another set of beliefs. Usually associated with military and political interrogation and religious conversion, brainwashing attempts, through prolonged stress, to break down an individual's physical and mental defenses. Brainwashing techniques range from vocal persuasion and threats to punishment, physical deprivation, mind-altering drugs, and severe physical torture.
The American Heritage®

noun: a forcible indoctrination to induce someone to giveup basic political, social, or religious beliefs and attitudes and to accept contrasting regimented ideas
Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary

So, is indoctrinating a child to a "belief" brainwashing? Strictly speaking a person would need to hold a perspective, a view, a belief that is in opposition to the indoctrinator's preferred belief. To that extent, a child who holds no preconceived notion, no perspective, and no view and is indoctrinated into the parent's belief system might not be strictly considered a victim of brainwashing.

However, if we take the position that NOT having a belief in the supernatural / God/gods is by default atheism at birth, then the argument might be made that the parents are indeed indoctrinating, inducing, forcing abandonment of lack of belief (aka atheism) for a preferred supernatural religious belief.

Some might take issue with the word forcing. But force comes in a variety of forms. It doesn't have to mean physical force. Among the definitions of force is administration of power by one who holds authority over one who has no power; to exercise persuasive power, to convince. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/force

But beyond that, what is more forceful, more intimidating, than to tell a child that failure to believe like the parents do will result in an eternity of pain and anguish in a hideously fearful place, and separation from the parents after death? Talk about force and coercion!

I'd proffer that unless a child is presented with the alternatives to the parents’ preferred religious belief; provided with a variety of options including the option of no belief ... and have it presented dispassionately without prejudice, threat, fear or undue influence, then indeed parental indoctrination of a child into their preferred belief system IS brainwashing.

It is every much brainwashing as a Palestinian child being indoctrinated by his parents to hate and want to kill Jews. Whether it is a mindset of good or evil is in the eye of the believer; it doesn't change the fact that it is inducing a belief, a view, that otherwise might not have been the child's own given the various options.

When, as a child, my eldest son asked me if there was a god my answer was "A lot of people think so, some people don't." When he asked if I believed in God I told him "I don't but your Mom does." When he asked if he believes in God my reply was "You'll have to decide for yourself when you are older." He was satisfied with that. No threat, no dogma, no force or indoctrination of a malleable mind ill-equipped to reason, weigh, and assess.

Some how theists just aren't comfortable allowing their child the "free will" to investigate and decide without coercsion. It's the parents’ will or else. If that’s not brainwashing I don’t know what is.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Religiosity and Intelligence: 50 years of study confirms what we've always suspected

In the spring of 1986, Free Inquiry a respected magazine that promotes secular humanism and rational thinking published a detailed article entitled “The Effect of Intelligence on Religious Faith”. Contained within that article were sixteen studies conducted from 1927 through 1980 that examined college students’ degree of religiosity and their intellectual ability as measured by test scores and grades.

Of the sixteen studies thirteen of them, 81%, showed an inverse correlation between religiosity and intelligence. That is, the aggregate scores were consistently highest among the least religious / non-believers, and lowest among the more religious / most religious. While three studies reported no statistical difference between the groups, not a single one of the studies reported higher intelligence in the religious groups Vs the less religious / non-believer groups.

A list of those studies follows for those who would like to research this further:
Thomas Howells, 1927
Hilding Carlsojn, 1933
Abraham Franzblau, 1934
Thomas Symington, 1935
Vernon Jones, 1938
A. R. Gilliland, 1940 (no statistical difference)
Donald Gragg, 1942
Brown and Love, 1951
Michael Argyle, 1958
Jeffrey Hadden, 1963 (no statistical difference)
Young, Dustin and Holtzman, 1966
James Trent, 1967 (no statistical difference)
C. Plant and E. Minium, 1967
Robert Wuthnow, 1978
Norman Poythress, 1975
Wiebe and Fleck, 1980

The results of the Poythress (’75) study were typical of the majority findings. They tracked SAT scores of religious students compared to three levels of non-belief/anti-religiosity. It showed that as religious belief declined/ anti-religiosity increased SAT scores increased commensurately. The religious student group average SAT scores were 10% lower than the most anti-religious student group.

Another example, the Brown and Love (’51) study, tracked controlled test scores. Believers’ averaged 19% lower average test scores than did non-believers.

I have discussed in earlier posts the fact that the most eminent scientists in the US and Great Britain, members of The National Academy of Science, and the Royal Society, have much lower rates of religious belief than does the general population of either country.

So when we take all this data into account, what conclusion can we draw? Well, we cannot infer that all atheists are smarter than all theists. That would be an easily falsified assumption. But we can deduce by a preponderance of corroborating results from scientifically conducted studies that on the aggregate atheists are more intelligent than believers.

The reason for this is not difficult to surmise. People who can best access problems using reason, fact and logic use those same attributes to analyze / examine the claims of theistic belief. When they do they conclude those claims to be lacking. People with lesser degrees of those attributes are least likely to apply critical thinking to religious claims, and are more inclined to accept them at face.

The evidence for this is overwhelming and not a recent observation. Celsus, a 2nd century Greek writer was a careful observer of the early Christian movement and critic of it. Among his many observations are the following:

"… the following are the rules laid down by them [ Christian proselytizers] . Let no one come to us who has been instructed, or who is wise or prudent (for such qualifications are deemed evil by us); but if there be any ignorant, or unintelligent, or uninstructed, or foolish persons, let them come with confidence. By which words, acknowledging that such individuals are worthy of their God, they manifestly show that they desire and are able to gain over only the silly, and the mean, and the stupid, with women and children."...

The least educated, least discerning, most ignorant and gullible are those least likely to challenge and question, and the more likely to blindly accept faith over fact. This is just as true of Islam, the fastest growing religion in the world thanks to its appeal to the most undereducated inhabitants of the Third World.

Here’s a tip -- if you see people who are babbling mindlessly in tongues, or handling snakes as they dance around praising Jesus, or proclaiming the Earth to be 6,000 years old, or crawling on their hands and knees to be touched by a faith healer, or allowing themselves to be ceremonially crucified in honor of their savior, or attesting to the End being near; feel comfortable giving good odds, and placing a week’s salary bet, that none of them are brain surgeons, rocket scientists, or Mensa members. It’s money in the bank.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Religiosity, Mental Illness, and Molestation: An Unholy Connection

I met a believer on line, let’s call him “Adam”, who introduced himself to me as “… gay, promiscuous, OCD [Obsessive Compulsive Disorder] and bipolar.” Too much info from someone whose name I don’t even know. Then it got worse. It seems he was molested by a priest as a child and attributes all of his “issues” to that event. His conditions are so severe he had to drop out of college, and his parents reject him for his homosexuality. The fact that he divulged this to a complete stranger was a warning sign.

Evidently the point of all this was to set the stage for proclaiming that I, as an avowed atheist, am a “fraud”; that I can’t possibly be an atheist, since “everyone has faith”, even him; even after what happened to him at the hands of that priest, even with his unhappy life and afflictions. I assured him that I was indeed an atheist, but this only served to enflame him. He became progressively more irate, agitated and hostile. It was completely bizarre. I left him to his ranting.

This exchange prompted me to wonder about the relationship of religion and mental illness. While I was familiar with hyper-religiosity, a clinically accepted term for certain schizophrenics who become extremely obsessed with religion, to the point of delusion, I was curious as to what research has been done on religiosity and lesser degrees of mental illness. I didn’t have to look far to find there are exists a plethora of medical studies that show positive correlation between religiosity, OCD, bipolar disorder, and child sexual abuse.

One study published in Psychiatric Research concluded that while religion does not cause OCD, people with multiple obsessions will tend to exhibit higher frequency of religious obsession. http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0165178101003109

In an article on bipolar disease religiosity is exhibited as a secondary, less prevalent symptom, appearing in 39% of bipolar patients. Hyper sexuality appears in 57% of patients (explaining Adam’s description of himself as promiscuous).

Wiki reports that bipolar disorder symptoms include irritability, escalating to rage, and hyper-religiosity. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manic_episode. This is confirmed by medical authorities such as Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics.

In fact, there is a Christian website that not only recognizes the bipolar connection to religiosity, it councils bipolar believers on how to differentiate between religiosity and spirituality that is “fruitful” and that which is driven by their disease. http://www.chastitysf.com/bipolar.htm

Finally, and most telling is this: studies show that there is a “significant relationship” between childhood sexual abuse and religiosity. Abused children are substantially more likely to become religious than non-abused children. The Journal of Child Sexual Abuse published the authoritative work on this subject. http://eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/custom/portlets/recordDetails/detailmini.jsp?_nfpb=true&_&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=EJ564932&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=no&accno=EJ564932 One might easily conclude that Adam’s religiosity isn’t in spite of his being abused … he was condemned to religiosity by his abuse, along with his mental infirmities.

This is just a sampling. The facts I present here are corroborated by many medical authorities’ websites; thousands of them.

Adam’s attributing his homosexuality, OCD and bipolar disorder to his abuse by that priest is likely his own interpretation and rationalization. There is a clear inference, however, that his mental disorders, combined with his sexual abuse, produced his less than “fruitful” highly aggressive form of religiosity.

But what’s even more interesting is this: if you do a search for “atheism and mental illness, bipolar, OCD” there is not a single study, not a single link that associates mental disorder with non-belief or vise versa. The only thing it does show are people who were once atheist who, as a result of their disorder, “converted” to belief.

What does this all mean vis-à-vis the religious and their mental stability? It certainly does not mean that all believers are insane, any more than all atheists are sane. But the relationship between mental instability and being religious is undeniable. Why am I unsurprised?